may 28 - august 14, 2015

ellen auerbach
classic works and collaborationS

Robert Mann Gallery is pleased to announce Ellen Auerbach: Classic Works and Collaborations. A revolutionary during the era of Germany’s Weimar Republic, Auerbach, in partnership with friend and fellow photographer Grete Stern, broke into the male-dominated field with the collaborative advertising studio “ringl + pit” during the early 1930s. Trained under Walter Peterhans of the Bauhaus school and part of the later-named New Vision movement, Stern and Auerbach as ringl + pit hovered between genres, playing with montage and elements of surrealism to blend commercial intent with fine-art aesthetics. Exemplary works by the duo include the celebrated Pétrole Hahn, 1931, in which a doll’s head is substituted for a model’s to shrewdly disrupt the traditional advertisement pose for cosmetics at the time. This satirical recasting of objects for objectified female figures carries throughout the pair’s images in our exhibition.

Parting ways from Stern, Auerbach with her husband Walter ultimately immigrated to the US after fleeing Germany upon the Nazi takeover. Yet Auerbach continued to travel extensively, one fruit of which was a 1955 partnership with photographer friend Eliot Porter documenting Mexican churches in vibrant color. Additional trips took the artist to Mallorca, Argentina, and Chile, often with a focus on photographing children, a passion which would result in a late-life career as an educational therapist. Closer to home, she captured bathers, wanderers, and fellow noteworthies like Willem de Kooning and Renate Schottelius with a frank grace. Citing the camera as a sort of “third eye,” Auerbach often stated that her intent was to find the central essence of the people and places she photographed.

Auerbach’s work, as well as her collaborations, were rediscovered much later in the artist’s life. Auerbach and Porter’s photo book Mexican Churches was finally published in 1987, and the images of ringl + pit did not emerge into the historical canon until the 1980s. Predating a major retrospective of Auerbach’s work at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin in 1998, Robert Mann Gallery’s 1994 exhibition Ellen Auerbach: From Bauhaus to God’s House was one of the first to show Auerbach’s solo work and collaborations side-by-side.

ELlen Auerbach Reviewed in the NEw YOrker


August 3, 2015

This valuable addendum to MOMA's current exhibition “From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola” centers on Stern's partner in the avant-garde photography studio known as ring + pit. Their Bauhuas-style collaborations, most produced as advertisements in the thirties, are the most arresting images here, juxtaposing models and mannequins, balancing sensuality and restraint. Following the split with Stern, Auerbach's work became more varied, including portraits of Bertolt Brecht and Willem de Kooning, sensational shots of the dancer Renate Schottelius in midair, and a lovely group of muted color pictures from Mexico  reliquaries, paper roses, an outdoor market made in collaboration with Eliot Porter. Through Aug. 14. 

ellen auerbach reviewed in the wall street journaL


Ellen Auerbach: Classic Works and Collaborations
By William Meyers
June 13, 2015

There are 10 Ringl + Pit prints in Mann’s exhibition of work by Ellen Auerbach (1906-2004). (“Ringl” was Grete Stern’s nickname, “Pit” was Auerbach’s.) Several of the pictures at Mann are also in the current MoMA exhibition, including “Pétrole Hahn” (1931), an ad for a hair preparation; the image features the head of a saccharine, big-eyed mannequin, but the hand holding the bottle is a real human hand. The effect is whimsical, and even a little silly, as well as sophisticated and modern. “Hat and Gloves” (1931), also in both shows, has the gloves placed in front of the dummy head wearing the knit cap in the same relationship they would be on a person.

Read the full article online here. The article appears next to William Meyers' review of the exhibition From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola, on view through October 4th at The Museum of Modern Art.